Every girl, ever since she is a child has inculcated a notion of prince charmings and happily ever afters. A white shiny gown with the veil brushing the aisle floor, where the groom looks with his eyes full of love and amazement. Similarly, in India, we start designing our own lehengas, embellish them with our dreams and put on the bindis on trial to see the happiness doting in ourselves. But what is the scenario after that? Does marriage always end up in fairy-tale weddings and happily ever after? The outside aura must say yes, but the statistics say no.
Let me tell you a short story of a girl named Asha. Asha, who is now 42 was a victim of an abusive marriage and marital rape. In her 24 years of marriage, she always dreaded her next assault rather than waiting to be loved by her husband. Asha, who is a resident of suburb Mumbai, revealed the truth behind her failed marriage and how horrifying her life of dreams was. She was slapped, beaten with a stick, burnt with a cigarette butt, pulled and thrown at any tough object around. This kept on happening when one day she was severely injured and was taken to the nearest hospital to have found grave injuries in her private parts, caused by excessive rape and abuse.
It took 24 years and an unlimited amount of trauma to realise that marital rape and abuse is a crime that should be strictly taken care of. Her account of miseries in trauma centre created a buzz about marital rape among her neighbourhood which led to a bit of awareness around the country.
India is a country which is well reputed for strong family ties, upbringing, and culture of togetherness and constant caring of other people’s invalid opinions. Marital rape is always in a mum and hush around the world and not just India. Many pop culture artists tried to showcase these things through music the recent being Lady Gaga. Charles Bukowski too wrote in his poem about his mother and his experience with sexual assault in, ‘A Smile To Remember’
“my mother, always smiling, wanting us all to be happy, told me, ‘be happy Henry!’ and she was right: it’s better to be happy if you can but my father continued to beat her and me several times a week while raging inside his 6-foot-two frame because he couldn’t understand what was attacking him from within.my mother, poor fish, wanting to be happy, beaten two or three times a week, telling me to be happy: ‘Henry, smile! why don’t you ever smile?’and then she would smile, to show me how, and it was the saddest smile I ever saw.”
What are we doing to curb this down? There are articles in almost every major lawbook for this yet we know very less about it. 13% of the entire population in India goes through marital rape and abuse which includes 2% men.
Emergency rooms and counselling centres for women in distress have been recording what the country is currently debating: the need to criminalise marital rape.
Of the 664 cases of women who reported domestic violence in 2015 at NGO Sneha’s crisis counselling centre in Dharavi, 159 women also reported, among other issues, marital rape. At Sneha’s counselling centres at KEM and Sion hospitals, of 218 cases of domestic violence received in 2015, 64 women said they had faced marital rape.
What works in the male psychology when it comes to rape and assault? The answer is a strong sense of patriarchy and physical strength. Men have been raised with a notion in their mind that women are physically weaker wherein, many women give up to the notion as well.
What we could do as educated females are to be aware, spread awareness and help someone come out of it. A vote of confidence and a push is all we need to achieve a greater goal.
(By: Ashu Yadav, She ispursuing Masters in English Literature from Doon University, Dehradoon)